Episode 208: Vicissitudes

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Present: Maer, Terri, Bobby, Jay and Tony
Air Date: 15 Sep 2009

Monday, 18 Mar 2520
Kuiper II Class, Summer’s Gift
En Route to White Sun (Bai Hu) system
12:30 hrs, ship’s time

The feathers ruffled over the contretemps in the crew gym are smoothed as we travel onward. At one point, Mike Carmen passes a small folded note into Ms. Chin’s hand. She looks a touch surprised but takes it. We don’t find out til much later that it was an apology written in Chinese. It seems Carmen can speak Chinese but cannot write it, and that Pierre DuChamps helped Mike Carmen with the calligraphy.

We fly on.

We’re a week in space when two things happen.

One: The crew has been taking turns keeping Lem occupied with activities that would afford him physical and mental exercise. While playing ball with him belowdecks, Rick is with Lem when the little boy trips into the wall and immediately starts going into seizures. He calls Arden over the comm for help and together they get Lem into medbay. Lem goes into cardiac arrest and Arden manages to save his life. But not before there’s some brain damage due to oxy starvation. There is scarring in the cerebral blood vessels and Lem is now comatose. If we cannot halt the progression of the disease, we may well be delivering a corpse to Red Sun. Arden proposes we rig a cryostasis chamber for him. Rina starts looking through the materials she has on hand and it isn’t long before swearing and banging starts in her workshop: she lacks significant components to make Arden’s chamber work.

Two: Nika spots something on the sensors two days out of Sampson Array. It’s a sensor fence and it doesn’t look friendly. We’re running without our pinger on, we’re using only passive sensors. She check our passives again as she’s had several times already, she notes a shadow reading on the scope. It could be nothing, shadow blips happen fairly frequently, giving false positives and the shadow blip is traveling perpendicular to our trajectory. Nothing else besides the sensor fence around Sampson Array shows up and Nika drops us out of pulse, discreetly warning the crew we’ve picked up a possible tail and that we should tell the passengers they should go to their quarters til we figure out what the tail is. She drops us out of pulse and turns us in a graceful 180 so we can see what’s following us.

Which leads immediately to ….

Three: Our shadow tail comes to life in a flare of rockets and our passive sensors start screaming—Nika takes one look and recognizes it. It’s a long range pulse torpedo and it’s locked onto us.

She flashes back to an incident in the war involving the damn things and instantly she’s engaged our pulse engines and jinking us wildly IN PULSE to throw the torpedo off our tail. Once, twice….eight times total. There’s no thought to concealing our signature from Sampson Array, no thought to elegance in flight, no thought for our ship’s structural allowances—she flies and maneuvers in sheer desperation and on the eighth jink, the torpedo falls away, its fuel spent. No longer a threat. Nika drops us out of pulse, white and shaking, and manages to keep herself together. Christian tells our passengers over the intercom that everything is fine.

Rina storms onto the bridge demanding to know what the hell that was all about, takes one look at Nika and subsides when she hears Nika’s blunt answer of “pulse torpedo”. And now that the danger is past, we start wondering if there’s anything on that torpedo we can use to save Lem. If nothing else, the torpedo casing could be converted to the chamber housing.

We go back to the torpedo to salvage it. Jake offers to get in a suit with Rina and Rick, since he’s got some experience from the war. And surprisingly enough Pierre DuChamps offers to go out too. It seems he knows of these types of torpedoes though he asserts his side didn’t use them.

His side? But the Alliance used them all the tim—oh. Pierre was Independent? Well, that’s an interesting twist. Given his vehemence over the possible desertion from the Alliance Navy by Mike Carmen and Paul Forrester, we’d all just assumed he was Alliance during the war.

You know what they say about those who make assumptions.

Pierre wants a discount for his assistance and Nika flat out gives him a full refund of his first class fee. He agrees and suits up.

We get as close as we can to the torpedo and space walk the rest of the way. We see it’s like a pulse engine attached to a war head…and when we open it up, we find it’s nuclear. And it’s hot.

Oh, Sh*t!

We work as quickly as possible to disconnect the nuclear portion from the rest of the torpedo and we push it on its way. It drifts into the Black without blowing up in our faces and we all breathe easier. After that, it’s nothing but eight hours hard work salvaging and bringing aboard what we can use. Everyone’s feeling the effects of the radiation when we come back aboard and our suits cannot be used til they’re deconned. Arden marches the EVA team into the med bay for rad checks and meds to counteract any radiation sickness we’re suffering. And we are, some more than others. There’s nothing for it but to press on and make that cryostasis container for Lem.

We get it done and Arden monitors Lem during the ‘freezing’ process. It’s a tense hour or so until Arden picks up Lem’s heartbeat. It’s very very slow, as is the rest of his metabolism, slow enough that Lem won’t even have to breathe for the duration of the trip.

Thus secured, both patient, ship and crew, we engage our pulse and make our way to White Sun.

Saturday, 13 Apr 2520
Jamestown Station, Bernadette
White Sun (Bai Hu) system
09:25 hrs, local time

We limp into White Sun and Bellerophon with 3 hours of fuel to spare—and that’s only because Nika dropped us out of pulse and had us coast the rest of the way in a day or so out. We cannot stay, it being restricted airspace, but they do give us enough fuel to make it as far as Bernadette, a mere day’s flight away. We thank them and move on.

Once at Bernadette, we land and fuel up. We find that we’re unable to buy food. There’s none to be had. We decide to take two days to get what supplies we can and allow Rina to get the overdue monthly maintenance work done. We get our suits deconned. We get a moment to put boots on dirt and breathe.

Our passengers Bala and Ms. Chin say goodbye to us, as does Pierre DuChamps. Pierre actually pauses a moment and tells Nika it’s possible he may have work for us in the future. Since the crew’s now twigged he’s Independent, we’d watched him more closely and consensus between us is we think he’s another of Nguyen's Browncoat chef-cum-spies. We don’t definitively say we’re available, leery of hooking up with Nguyen again and unhappy that he may have been spying on us via DuChamps during our voyage. We shake hands, thank him for his help and delay his departure no further.

Mike Carmen and Paul Forrester are going to stay with us a little further.

Arden looks up the current news on Josef Potemkin and discovers he’s been convicted of Human Trafficking and is serving his prison term. He is appealing his case. His business, Potemkin Colonial Services is now under a new name, Arc Tangent Colonial Services, and one could hope new ownership as well.

The maintenance done and what supplies we’ve managed to get now loaded, we say goodbye to Bernadette on the 15th. We are not sure what Red Sun holds for us. All we know we’re one small step closer to our goal, that of getting help for Lem, and perhaps once there we can regroup and plan more solidly for our future.

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